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Cuba Swears In Its New President Miguel Diaz-Canel

Person of the week

Cuba Swears In Its New President Miguel Diaz-Canel

Cuba’s 605-member National Assembly of People’s Power, a legislative body, gathered in the morning to vote for the 31-member Council of State, which forms the country’s government.

The options were limited, as Diaz-Canel was the only candidate for the presidency.

The deputy position of first vice-president, Diaz-Canel’s previous role, also only had one candidate, 72-year-old Salvador Valdés Mesa, and there are only five candidates to choose from for the five positions of vice-presidents.

There were only 24 names listed on the ballots to the 24 roles of secretary.

Miguel Díaz-Canel replaces 87-year-old Raúl Castro, who took over as Cuba’s leader in 2006 after his brother Fidel Castro fell ill.

Diaz-Canel is seen as a loyalist of the Communist Party, which is designated by the constitution as Cuba’s guiding political force, and he has worked his way up the party’s ranks over three decades.

Cuba’s outgoing President Raul Castro (L-R) and newly sworn in President Miguel Diaz-Canel

Raúl Castro stepped down in observance of the two-term limit for senior government and party officials that he himself mandated in 2011.

In so doing, he opened the door not just for a new president but for a generational transition in Cuba.

Díaz-Canel inherits a weak economy, relations with Washington are deteriorating and internet expansion on the Communist island has produced a growing chorus of domestic critics.

For many Cubans, struggling with economic hardships and frustrated with the government’s emphasis on continuity rather than change, the transition in leader is seen as unlikely to bring much beyond the symbolism of a new leader.

Vladimir Putin and Miguel Díaz-Canel. Unlike his predecessors, the new Cuban President has been trotting the globe and is likely to project a new Cuba image abroad but maintaining strong ties with Russia

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